Anthony Broadwater, 61, who served 16 years for raping writer Alice Siebold, was acquitted this week by the New York State Supreme Court and found not guilty of the crime. The reason for the acquittal was serious shortcomings in the 1982 investigation, and fears that the wrong person had been sent to prison.
Alice Siebold was a student at Syracuse University when she was assaulted and raped in 1981. She described this case in her 1999 memoir, "Happy." The theme of violence became central in her 2002 book "Cute Bones", which became a worldwide bestseller and was filmed.
In 1981, after the rape, Sibold stated that she met a black man on the street, in whom she allegedly recognized her abuser. The woman contacted the police, but she did not know the name of this man, and during the initial inspection of the area he was not found. The officer suggested that the man on the street must have been Broadwater, who was allegedly seen in the area.
However, after Broadwater's arrest, Sibold was unable to identify him, pointing first to another man. She later explained this by saying that the two men looked similar. Nevertheless, Broadwater was convicted in 1982 on the basis of two pieces of evidence: Sibold still identified him as a rapist, and an expert determined that Broadwater was connected to the crime based on microscopic analysis of hair.
The man spent 16 years in prison and was released in 1999. After his release, he still remained on the register of persons who committed sexual crimes.
Broadwater, who has worked as a garbage man and handyman since his release from prison, said the rape conviction had a negative impact on his job prospects and his relationships with friends and family members.
Even after he married a woman who believed in his innocence, Broadwater never wanted to have children for fear of how their lives might be affected by the fact of his imprisonment on such charges.
Broadwater owes his justification to producer Tim Mucciante, who worked on the film adaptation of "Happy." While working on the script, he became skeptical of Broadwater's guilt.
I started digging around and trying to figure out what really happened here,
Muccante told the AP.
Mucciante eventually pulled out of the project and hired a private investigator to look into the case.
Broadwater himself could not hold back tears after learning that he was acquitted. The 58-year-old Sibold has not yet commented on the court's decision.